A CHAPLAIN’S MEMORIES
Read here, a chaplain’s memories of his time on Lowry Air Force Base, when he was Chaplain at the Eisenhower Chapel.
by Mark Campbell, Chaplain, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Eisenhower Chapel on Lowry Air Force Base (now Lowry Campus) holds vibrant and dear memories for my family and me. My first assignment as an active duty chaplain was at Lowry, 1992-94, the last two years before the base closed. While I was very aware that President Eisenhower had worshipped in the chapel, and bore his name, at the time I was assigned to Lowry the Eisenhower Chapel was used chiefly for Sunday worship by the Protestant Gospel congregation.
Music is a key element of a “Gospel” service in the Air Force, to include a Gospel Choir with loud, rhythmic singing, accompanied by organ and drum and sometimes guitars. While this style of worship was brand new to me, I quickly found that I thrived on the energy in worship and the dialogue in preaching, where members of the congregation would respond out loud during the sermon, with “Amen” or “Preach it” or “That’s right.” Our son, Evan, took Communion for the first time on my first Sunday preaching at Eisenhower Chapel—a wonderful event in his spiritual development.
I distinctly remember the slow, melodic, rhythm of the congregation singing the Doxology after the offering as the chaplain would place the offering plates on the altar. The crescendo of the singing with drum accompaniment was spine tingling. As a result I found joy in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the same, regardless of cultural and worship style differences, in all places and cultures.
One quiet afternoon at the Chapel Center (the other chapel on base where our offices were located) a chaplain assistant asked me to help an older lady and her nephew who had come asking to get into the Eisenhower Chapel—it was President Eisenhower’s niece! I gladly accompanied them to the Eisenhower Chapel where she looked at the photos of the President and said she remembered riding in a car, pictured there, with him. It was a great opportunity to connect with history.
While I was at Lowry the Eisenhower Chapel stood at a corner of the base with few other buildings near it … mainly soccer fields were nearby. Today, it stands like an island in a modern development of shops and dwellings, but still offers a place of worship, prayer, and meeting. I’m so grateful it is standing and being used creatively.